There are literally thousands of website live chat apps out there. Most of them are simple tools for you to insert into your website. They range from easy to complex and have different functions geared to helping your online ecommerce store.

If you haven’t already implemented live chat on your website for your sales and customer service, you are behind. Live chat provides an easy way to contact service, answer consumer questions, and influence online shoppers. With the thousands of choices, how do you choose the best for your ecommerce business?

Here’s my guide to Live Chat Apps and services that will impact your business.

Website live chat apps

There are some amazing tools out there that can be had for cheap. Some are priced as low as $16 a month, integrate into your CRM or service desk software, and even offer Chatbot features. They easily plug into your website with minimal code and work very well.

For larger organizations, they will most certainly lack the features needed to properly track chat statistics along with customer satisfaction. This includes reporting and other features that really get into the details of the chat.

CRM chat tools

These are available from companies like Zoho, Hubspot, or Saleforce.com and are add-ons to their existing tool set. Generally, these are good tools and have strong integration into the CRM tools that you are currently using. Some offer chatbots and have good agent interfaces that your sales and customer support are already used to. 

These tools are great if you are interested in more of a sales function and most of your inquiries are about the products and services you offer on your online store. They may not be as functional when dealing with large numbers of customer service inquires or support issues such as billing inquiries and customer returns.

Service desk chat add-ons

These tools generally come as options to your service desk. They are extraordinary in that they integrate into your service or help desk functions as well as your website. These are amazing tools that track and monitor customer inquiries to minute details and produce many statistics that will help you increase your customer satisfaction (CSAT, NSP, etc)

Selecting a service desk add-on for live chat helps you provide better service to your customers and is very effective if your primary function is customer support, returns, and service questions. It may be less effective if you are interested in more of a sales or pre-sales support function.

Chatbots and AI

We cannot ignore the onslaught of Chatbots and AI. These will only get better and better over the years. They have come a long way from the times of calling the cable company and yelling “CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!” into the phone.

However, chatbots still regurgitate pre-programmed messages.  Online shoppers know when they are talking to a computer. Most companies don’t even hide that you are talking to a chatbot – nor should they. 

The amount of information to get AI behind chatbots to work correctly is really only financially viable if you field thousands of questions a day. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If your training data is sparser than that, it’s far less likely that the virtual agent can develop the smarts necessary to identify customer intents effectively.”

My recommendation is using Chatbots for directing traffic to get chatters to the right person. Then a live expert can pick up and have an effective and personal conversation with the chatter. Chatbots may be good for customer service but are not great for sales.

From the Havard Business Review – “We’ve seen sales applications flop; one large retailer had to scrap a virtual agent deployment because the decision process for what to do with the customer turned out to be too complex to automate effectively.”

Great Live Chat Apps Need Great Chat Agents

The tools become moot if there are not quality people as live chat agents. Here are some hazards to consider when using internal resources or external contractors:

  • Staffing the chat: If you already have a team in place, it’s possible to use them to staff the chat. However, what happens after hours or if you have customers worldwide? Some internal team members were better than others when handling chat or multitasking. And other existing team members are just plain bad at it. There are also possibilities of outsourcing chat, but we all have visions of reaching someone in India/China/Russia (pick your favorite non-native speaking country).

 

  • Internal training: When we first implemented chat at a company I previously worked at, we recruited our internal call staff to be chat agents. However, because it wasn’t part of their daily routine, they were not logging into the chat. Once the training began and we changed the way the agents interacted with the tool, we were able to solve the problem. However, there was still no one directly responsible for “chat” so it was consistently neglected and chatters were given a “No Agents Available, please leave us a message” message.

 

  • Did the chat go to the right agent?: Consider when a person engages with chat on your website. Were they looking at your product? Were they on a support page or customer service page? 

Needle is a great solution

Needle brings everything you need for a great live chat app experience on your ecommerce website. We have both the tools and the chat agents to help your customers through the sales process. Whether you choose one or the other, we have the expertise to create a unique customer experience to your online store.

Needle is different in that we use your customers as chat agents. We find those customers who are truly passionate about your products and services and use them to talk to your online customers. This one-two punch of good tools and amazing chat agents truly gives you the best chat app for your ecommerce website. 


About The Author

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Jordan K Pusey is a contributing blogger who brings 20 years of high-tech industry experience to the table. During his tenure, he has worked in IT, systems management, security, IT infrastructure, software sales/marketing, website creation, and online digital marketing. Jordan uses his extensive background in high tech marketing to provide advice and best practices, showing online companies how to attract customers for rapid growth. He's also an avid mountain biker, drummer, skier, and father of three amazing kids.